July 25, 2024

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How Many Bones Does a Shark Have?

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sharks have many bones

If you take a closer look at the anatomy of a shark, you will realize that sharks have many bones. The main question lies in the number of bones that a shark has. These sea creatures have different kinds of bones and if you want to learn more about this, kindly read the article up to the end. There are many fascinating things you will know about shark bones that you probably didn’t know before.

Sharks have between 360-410 bones based on the species. You must know that cartilage makes up most of the bones. It is a light and flexible material. This simply says that sharks have fewer bones than other types of fish. The number of bones a shark has depends on its species. The reason why sharks are great swimmers and the fiercest predators under the water is because of their skeletal system.

Do All Sharks Have the Same Number of Bones?

As mentioned earlier, sharks have different types of bones based on species. The main reason their skeleton gives them the most advantage is that most of it is made up of cartilage, a lightweight material that is solid and flexible. This material makes it easy for sharks to twist and make sharp turns through the water.

So, do all sharks have the same number of bones? The answer is no. Sharks have different numbers of bones depending on the species. For instance, whale sharks have 150 vertebrae while white sharks have 209 vertebrae. Nonetheless, even with this distinction, all sharks lack bone marrow. That means that sharks cannot produce the essential red blood cells. Instead, their bodies depend on gills, tiny capillaries, to transport oxygen from the water.

Remember, irrespective of the number of bones or the cartilage material, sharks have a high sense of smell that facilitates their avoiding enemies and finding food.

What Are the Different Types of Shark Skeletons?

The best thing about the cartilage is that it makes sharks fast due to its lightweight. Furthermore, it offers more flexibility to enable the shark easily twist. Another benefit of the cartilage is that it allows the skeleton to stretch such that a shark can grow even up to 60 feet and longer.

Sharks have two kinds of skeletons- articulated and monolithic. You will find articulated skeletons in large sharks like the white shark. On the other hand, a monolithic skeleton is found in small sharks like dogfish. Mostly, monolithic skeletons have one cartilage and a few joints to make the shark flexible.

Do Sharks Have any Disadvantages Because of Their Skeleton Type?

The skeleton type is a disadvantage compared to other fish. Sharks lack a swim bladder because of the lightweight cartilage.  Additionally, sharks are easily injured because the cartilage is softer than bone. Sharks also have to keep moving for them to breathe.


Irrespective of the disadvantages, sharks are the fiercest predators in the water. They have a strong sense of smell that helps them evade predators and get food, even with their cartilaginous skeleton.

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